March 16, 2008
Northwest Bows Out to Central Oklahoma
STEPHENVILLE, Texas-Central Oklahoma held Northwest to one field goal during the final nine minutes of each half to earn a 73-59 win in the semifinals of the South Central Regional Sunday night at Wisdom Gymnasium. The Bearcats' season ends in the round of 32 for the second year in a row.
Central Oklahoma recovered from an early 14-point deficit and avenged an early season loss to Northwest to advance to the regional finals for the first time since 1998. Sam Belt led all players with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Northwest shot a season-low 29 percent from the field and couldn't buy a bucket down the stretch. The Bearcats made 15 straight free throws during a six-minute stretch and took a 56-54 lead after a pair from Lance Sullivan with 3:36 remaining.
Brian Walker hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Bronchos their first four-point lead. Northwest missed its next six shots before Mike Larsen hit a 3 to make it 72-59 in the final minute. The Bronchos scored 19 of the game's final 22 points.
Central Oklahoma made one of its first 10 field goals and trailed 16-5 early on. A 3-pointer by Andy Peterson followed by a driving layup by Hunter Henry gave the Bearcats a 21-7 lead midway through the first half.
Fortune's turned, however, and the Bronchos scored 14 of the game's next 15 points. Belt, the nation's 28th-leading scorer, got his first points with a bucket in the paint near the six-minute mark. His first 3 gave UCO its first lead, 28-25, with a minute left before half.
Northwest made one field goal in the half's final 10 minutes and went 3-of-6 from the free-throw line. The Bearcats committed 10 first-half turnovers and trailed 28-26 at the break.
Andrais Thornton tipped in a missed Northwest shot and Larsen hit a 3 to give the Bearcats a 39-35 lead at the midway point of the second half. Eric Cazenave hit two 3-pointers and scored eight points in a row to give Central Oklahoma a 43-42 edge.
While the Bearcats were making free throws, the Bronchos were knocking down shots. UCO made the last 10 they took from the field spanning the game's final 10 minutes.
Henry led Northwest with 13 points and added six boards. Lance Sullivan had 12 points, but was 1-of-8 from behind the arc. Northwest was 6-of-27 from 3-point range for the game (22.2 percent).
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